The Great War Illustrated 1918...


...from Pen and Sword


Title: The Great War Illustrated 1918

Author:William Langford & Jack Holroyd

Publisher: Pen and Sword

ISBN: 978-1-47388-165-5

It's hard to believe that this fifth book in the Great War Illustrated series means we have got the final year in this series of 100th anniversary years of that 'war to end all wars'.  Over 500 pages are packed full of archive photos which provide a fine and wide perspective of the varied elements and events which made up the war in 1918.  Over 1000 images are once again in this fifth volume of the series.

The eight chapters start with coverage of part of the naval war, the Zeebrugge and Ostend raids as we tried to block the ports used by German U-boats.  Some amazing pictures of the raid, and the shell riddled superstructure of HMS Vindictive when she returned to Dover gives a vivid idea of the strength of the opposition they faced.  That is followed by the German Spring Offensive, the Kaiserschlacht.  Some German success but not enough to be decisive.  We see lots of troops and equally plenty of heavy equipment, including artillery and tanks.  We move on again with chapter 3, looking at the war in Salonika, Mesopotamia and Palestine.  A quite different landscape to the trenches of the Western Front.  Suddenly we get sun hats and sand, armoured cars, horses and even camels.

Another change of scenery for chapter 4, the Italian Front.  Here we get mountains and snow, and a number of images that show how mountain troops coped with the terrain and moved heavy equipment.  One photo also features a young Erwin Rommel, who had his earliest successes with a mountain regiment, when he was awarded the Pour le Merite.  In chapter 5 it goes back to the Western Front, the Battles of the Aisne and the Marne.  With chapter 6 we see another significant change to the whole situation on the Western Front, the Americans at Cantigny, Chateau-Thierry, St.Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne.  With the huge numbers of losses over 5 years of war it meant the shortage of manpower was affected Germany, France and Britain.  The arrival of 2 million Americans were a significant increase in the threat to Germany.  Within this chapter is a section of colorised photos, by Jon Wilkinson, and these give an interesting take on the black & white images that otherwise fill the book.  It's chapter 7 which brings the story to a close, in terms of the war itself.  This covers the Battle of Amiens, The Hindenburg Line and Advance to Victory.  This leaves the final chapter 8 to tackle Some Consequences of this Global War.  Revolution in Russia led to the murder of the Romanov royal family, there was revolution in Germany and Turkey while a European Flu epidemic killed indiscriminately.  Add the job of cleaning up the mess of war and rebuilding, economies in tatters, there is plenty to be featured in this final part of the story of WW1.

Add this to the other 4 volumes in the series, over 5,500 archive photos make a valuable reference to the history of WW1 and with informative captions provided for them all by experience historians this is a fine series, and this final volume covering 1918 rounds it all off very neatly.

Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.